Through the Crafting the Corridor community tour and interactive mapping workshop, El Paso residents, business owners, planners, and elected officials shared personal perspectives and identified local assets, challenges, and ideas for strengthening their neighborhoods along the city’s new streetcar routes. Locals participated in an interactive hop-on/hop-off bus tour that took them along the North and South streetcar loops. At each stop speakers shared points of interest and perspectives on current issues, local history, and opportunities for preservation and growth. Participants returned to the El Paso Museum of Art for a facilitated discussion and creative mapping session led by public artist Graham Coreil-Allen and El Paso 1st District council representative and artist Peter Svarzbein. Residents used laser cut cardboard signs, colorful tape, and play doh to write, illustrate, and sculpt their neighborhood assets, challenges, and new ideas for building on the city’s streetcar revival. They placed their handmade signs and sculptures on corresponding locations within an immersive, colorful 10’ x 20’ vinyl floor map. El Paso city planners documented participants’ numerous contributions as input for the El Paso Streetcar Corridor Plan.
Crafting the Corridor participants identified and discussed a range of issues and ideas. Suggestions included improving walkability, adding mixed use density around streetcar stops, creating more shade structures, leveraging the streetcar as a cultural heritage trail, decking over the freeway as a park, creating more murals around the city, restoring the historic tenements in Segundo Barrio, and extending the streetcar across the border to downtown Juarez, Mexico.
Crafting the Corridor was hosted by the Planning & Inspections Department of the City of El Paso, in conjunction with the offices of Representatives Peter Svarzbein and Cissy Lizarraga. Before being elected to city council in 2015, Jewish-Latino artist and El Paso native Peter Svarzbein created a fictitious advertising campaign to revive a defunct cross-border trolley. His public art and performance interventions contributed to an advocacy campaign that successfully raised $97 million in funding to re-establish strong cultural and economic bonds between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico communities.